Felix Carr, Winner of Steven Campbell Trust, Hunt Medal 2016
Statement from Carol Campbell:
“My fellow Directors of the Trust and I had a thoroughly enjoyable visit to the GSA City nights preview last Thursday (16th June) with a view to selecting our Hunt medal winner for this year.
As GSA guidelines require that the prizes given should have a criterion, the selection made by myself and the family was that of ‘Poetic Creativity’ as we felt this encompassed everything that Steven stood for in terms of his Art.
The standard was high and debate was fierce between the Directors but there was a coming together around the work of our choice for 2016 Felix Carr.
Felix’s images were at the forefront of several of our minds during the selection process. We loved the energy, the risk taking and the bravura. So in the end the decision making process was much easier than we had anticipated. We felt we had found a worthy winner in Felix and I am personally delighted to see him awarded the Hunt Medal for 2016.”
To see more of Felix Carr’s work, follow this link
The search is on for an aspiring Scottish artist to spend a fully funded three month residency in New York, made possible through a collaborative initiative between the Saltire Society, the Steven Campbell Trust, International Studio and Curatorial Programme (New York) and Creative Scotland.
The scholarship will involve a three month residency as part of the International Studio and Curatorial Programme (ISPC) in Brooklyn. The winning artist will be given dedicated studio space and the unique opportunity to work alongside 45 fellow artists in residence. The winner will also be the first Scottish artist ever to have received a place at this internationally recognised studio.
The Steven Campbell New York Scholarship is part of a wider £50,000 programme of bursaries to support young and emerging Scottish artists, recently unveiled by independent charity the Saltire Society to help celebrate its 80th anniversary year.
The late Steven Campbell is widely recognized as one of the most significant Scottish artists of his generation. Born in Glasgow, Campbell was a student of Glasgow College of Art and went on to gain a Fulbright Scholarship, which he used to go to New York to study at the Pratt Institute before returning to live in Glasgow in 1986. His widow Carol Campbell founded the Steven Campbell Trust following his death in 2007 with the aim of broadening creative thinking and creative output in individuals and communities of practice in a manner which reflects Campbell’s own international outlook and eclectic and imaginative works.
The scholarship is open to graduates from Edinburgh College of Art, Glasgow School of Art, Duncan of Jordanstone in Dundee, Robert Gordon’s in Aberdeen, and Moray College of Art (University of the Highlands and Islands). The scholarship will fund return flights to New York from Scotland, studio fees at ISCP, accommodation costs in New York and a contribution towards living expenses.
Completed applications must be sent to email@example.com no later than 12 noon on 17th June 2016.
The successful applicant will be announced at the Saltire Society’s headquarters in Edinburgh on 11th August 2016.
Based on advice from ISCP as to the artists who may benefit most from this experience, the Scholarship is aimed at people having graduated between 2004-2012 inclusive. Applicants must be available to take up the full period of their residency from 1st November 2016 until the 31st January 2017.
We are delighted to see Steven’s work featured in the new Art UK website.
Art UK, is the online home for art from every public collection in the United Kingdom.
Previously called the Public Catalogue Foundation, Art UK is a small charity. They work in partnership with 3,000 public collections, the BBC and other organisations to showcase the art the UK owns.
Art UK already features over 200,000 oil paintings by some 38,000 artists. These artworks are in museums, universities, town halls, hospitals and other civic buildings across the United Kingdom. Most of this art is not on public view.
A Blind Man Would Have Great Difficulty Looking at Cezanne
Although a deceptively simple painting, it has a natural beauty with a real sense of place albeit quite surreal.
The background scene is a little town on the bank of the river Saone called Tournus, where we would stop over on route to holidays in Italy. In fact, the family still do, to this day. My grandson Nathan and I will be there this summer.
The journey would progress from Tournus to Aix en Provence, the home-town of Steven’s best-loved artist Cezanne and a pilgrimage to the Jas de Bouffan studio would always be undertaken.
The title of the painting is in relation to that trick of the eye practiced by Cezanne and probably most artists, Steven included of looking at the painting, closing one eye opening it and then quickly closing the other, a sort of winking technique or simply keep one eye closed while looking at an object, scene etc.
“Artists have long known there are two ways of seeing the world”, says University of Oslo Psychology Professor Stine Vogt, Ph.D. “Without learning to turn off the part of the brain that identifies objects, people can only draw icons of objects, rather than the objects themselves. When faced with a hat, for instance, most people sketch an archetypal side view of a hat, rather than the curves, colours and shadows that hit our retina.”
She found that artists eyes tended to scan the whole picture, including apparently empty expanses of ocean or sky while non-artists focused in on objects, especially people. Non-artists spent about 40 percent of the time looking at objects while artists focused on them 20 percent of the time”
So, as the title clearly states, a blind man would have great difficulty with Cezanne.
I knew in 2004, when I first started university that I wanted to create figurative paintings that were of an imaginative style. I’d studied art all through my education, buying numerous books on the Old Greats. It wasn’t until my foundation course tutor, Mick Maslen, introduced me to the artwork of a group of Scottish figurative painters that I really knew the type of artwork I wanted to create. One of those artists was Steven Campbell.
My tutor handed me the book, ‘The Paintings of Steven Campbell, The Story so Far.’ The paintings inside were totally fresh and new to me. They drew my curiosity as they were full of story, wonder and puzzles. I had always read art books but hadn’t really sat down and read a proper book since school. As I discovered Campbell’s love of the books of P.G Wodehouse I thought by reading them I would find more clues to his paintings. I was planning a trip to Edinburgh to drop a painting off at a gallery and thought this would be a great opportunity for a read so I bought ‘Carry On Jeeves’ by Wodehouse. The book was full of quirky characters and hilarious stories. I thought these characters could be, on some level, the figures in Campbell’s paintings. This was great, these books were almost a dialogue for the artworks and I began reading more and more of them.
I’ve decided to talk about a painting that was probably the first image of Campbell’s work that I saw. It’s the image used for the front of a book my tutor handed to me. The painting is called ‘Painting in Defence of Migrants.’ Although painted in 1993 the image and subject are actually very appropriate given current events in the world today. The work shows a group of migrants exhausted from their travels, sitting high up next to a waterfall. They are spot-lit; the sky is dark with heavy clouds hanging over them with subtle silhouettes of men with guns drifting among them. Hunters or Soldiers? Perhaps in hot pursuit of the weary travellers?
The composition of the painting is circular, your eye moves around the painting, led by limbs, faces, and nature. Circular? Could this be on purpose to show that the travellers have been walking in circles themselves? Two trees sit either side of the painting, sheltering the group. The tall trunks lean towards each other forcing your eye down a valley filled with birds and fish; they too are migrants. The fish swim against the flowing waters of the river. They are most likely as tired as the people, fighting the current. A man with blonde hair is slightly more spot-lit than the others in the group, his hands placed together as though he is praying. The fish and water behind him are glowing. Has his prayer been answered as nature provides the fish that could be the food the travellers need to gain the energy to carry on? He is also the only one standing and is taking a step forward, a hopeful man not willing to give up. The birds swoop and glide over the landscape, littering the sky like the Hitchcock film, but these birds are not menacing. I feel they represent hope, a rescue party!
Since first seeing that book I’ve managed to collect a lot of exhibition catalogues of various Steven Campbell exhibitions from various online sellers. My favourite though, is one from a 1984 exhibition at The Fruitmarket Gallery. They say don’t judge a book by its cover but this one had a very special cover. The cover is cream covered with black brush marks crisscrossing and dotting out a horizontal figure in front of brickwork with the name STEVEN CAMPBELL spelled out boldly. As I picked it up I thought the rear of the cover was ripped, only to discover this was purposely done to reveal a pale blue sky with those same expressive black brush marks shaping out a mountain scene.
The great thing I’ve found in Campbell’s work is that every time I return to look at his paintings I’ll find something new. I feel like a traveller myself when I study them as I’m sure he was when he painted them. One of the things that really draws me to the work is how much you can tell he enjoyed painting these artworks; it’s his playground with endless possibilities.
With thanks to:
Artist and Damien Hirst Painting Assistant
Member of Steven Campbell Appreciation Group:
The inspiration for this painting came from a family safari to Kenya. It was just around the time that Mike Tyson was in disgrace, having bit Evander Holyfield on the ear.
We were out one day on route to the game park, traveling through a township market when Steven spotted a black and white printed T shirt featuring Mike Tyson, he got the driver to stop and ran back to buy it.
The t shirt forms the landscape at the bottom of the painting, while Steven’s own holiday shirt (which still hangs in his wardrobe) forms a representation of self while adding another landscape element of sky and sun.
This painting is based on an experience Steven had one Sunday travelling out to his studio in Bed Sty or Bedford Stuyvesant, to give it its full name. He had one change to make on the journey from our loft in Little Italy.
On approaching the platform to continue his journey he found it crowded with people and soon discovered that there had been a suicide attempt (a jumper on the track). Apparently the man was still there with the emergency services so Steven, not wishing to see anything gruesome (unlike the majority of the crowd) went back in the other direction trying to cross to the other platform to return home.
Unfortunately at the same time as Steven was coming down, the paramedics were bringing the injured young black man, who was now screaming and waving two bloody stumps in the air while lying on the stretcher. His legs had been cut off below the knee. So Steven, by trying to avoid being part of the action ended with a ringside seat, which left a very harrowing memory.
So if you look again at the painting you will see the crowds, bottom right, the signal lights, the body with the 2 stumps above it and various bits of detritus floating about.
The donut bag to the right of the picture beside the signal lights has a body of a rat coming out of it and again this comes from an actual memory. This was a different day but Steven has chosen to merge them into the one painting. We were both standing waiting for our local train, the RR, when a donut bag with the back end of a rat sticking out from it came hurtling along the track, the rat had obviously got inside to retrieve a left over piece of donut and had gotten stuck.
This painting is a good example of how Steven would take personal experiences and merge them with imaginative elements to form a cohesive, if somewhat illusive whole.
A still from a movie, where you write the script with your own imagination.